MJ Akbar has resigned from his post of Minister of State External Affairs, according to ANI. The former Union Minister was called out for sexual harassment by over a dozen women during his tenure as a journalist and editor. He has filed a defamation case against accuser Priya Ramani and will now pursue the case in a personal capacity.
According to a tweet put out by news agency ANI, MJ Akbar's statement said:
“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity."
Akbar had been accused of sexually harassing about 35 women while he was working at the The Asian Age, a newspaper he founded, and earlier at The Telegraph.
Priya Ramani has replied to the allegations and said, "I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court.".
Akbar had said that the allegations are "false, fabricated and deeply distressing”. He responded to the allegations by filing a defamation suit against Priya Ramani, one of the journalists who accused him of harassment. The vakalatnama filed on his behalf carried the names of 97 advocates from a top law firm, including 30 female lawyers.
Responding to the lawsuit, Priya Ramani had released a statement saying, “ I am ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my own defence.”
She received a tremendous surge of support on social media, and four journalists' groups, including the Indian Women's Press Corps, the Press Club of India, the Press Association, and South Asian Women in the Media, issued a joint statement earlier this week about their concerns regarding the non-implementation of sexual harassment laws. Their statement recommended that Akbar step down to allow a free and fair investigation into the allegations.